By Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila and Axel Pinpin in Calamba City
MANILA, Philippines- Barely 26 days before apparent Philippine President Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III assume the presidency from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, alleged members of a death squad operated by the Philippine military assassinated an active trade union officer South of Manila.
In a report filed by the left-leaning multisectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog chapter or New Patriotic Alliance in Southern Tagalog, the umbrella alliance of activist groups said on Wednesday night, around 6 PM, labor leader Edward Panganiban a union officer was brutally gunned down by unidentified men in Brgy. Caingin, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Bayan-ST said victim is a worker at Takata, a car-parts factory in the nearby town of Biñan, Laguna. The group said Panganiban’s union and the management of the factory are undergoing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations.
The extrajudicial killing of Panganiban was followed by the violent demoliiton of 21 farmer’s houses by private security guards of the Manila South Coast Dev’t Corp. in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas which is about several hours after the killing of the trade union activist.
In a separate report, a copy of which was obtained by http://www.allvoices.com, peassant leader Guillermo Bautista, chairperson of the peasant group Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK or the Association of Farmers Organizations in Southern Tagalog) said perpetrators made it sure the demolition of houses will take place while farmers were away and out in the fields.
Bautista said prior to the demolition of farmer houses in the hotly disputed 10,000 hectare agricultural estate, previous threats against other farmers’ communities started in May 21, when policemen, security guards and representatives of landowners of the Hacienda Yulo in Calamba violently dispersed and illegally arrested protesting farmers.
“With this series of incidents, we cannot help but wonder if the recently concluded election has created a scenario where land owners, big businesses felt comfortable and free in attacking the rights of the marginalized farmers and workers. Have they found an ally in Sen. Noynoy Aquino?” the peasant leader asked.
The fresh wave of attacks against Filipino activists in Southern Tagalog region coincided with the issuance of a statement by United Nation Special Rapporteur Philip Alston who said extrajudicial killings in the Philippines because the incoming president is also heavily dependent on the AFP.
“The President-elect will likely be reminded that he is heavily dependent on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not to cause problems and that any prosecution will alienate the military,” Alston said at a gathering of UN human rights officials in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Manila-based human rights watchdog Karapatan claimed that 1,118 extra-judicial killings and more than 200 enforced disappearances were documented in the Philippines between 2001 and October 2009.
According to Alston, “impunity is a serious issue that characterized extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines.”
Alston, was in the Philippines for a fact-finding mission in 2007 to investigate complaints of grave human rights violations and left and right killings of political activists. He had denounced the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration for failing to put an end to extra-judicial killings, which he said has decreased in recent years, but has continued due to lack of substantial measures to address the problem.
The UN special rapporteur said not a single member of the military, whom he earlier blamed for many killings and forced disappearances, has been punished over their involvement in political killings, enforced abductions and filing of trumped up charges against activists all over the Philippines.